the writing and photography of Neil Kramer



I know I will hear cries of bullshit from the mob, but the name of one of the baristas at my local coffee shop is Scheherazade. She is Persian. When I heard her friends call her by that name, my eyes lit up. Scheherazade is one of my favorite literary characters, the legendary Persian queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights.

The famous story goes that every day the Persian King would marry a new virgin, and every day he would send yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. This was done in anger, having found out that his first wife was betraying him. He had killed three thousand such women by the time he was introduced to Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter.

According to Wikipedia, Scheherazade was described by in Sir Richard F. Burton’s translation this way:

“[She] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”

Against her father’s protestations, Scheherazade volunteered to spend one night with the King. Once in the King’s chambers, she started to tell a story to the King, and The King liked it so much, he asked for another, but Scheherazade said there was not time as dawn was breaking, and much like a network promo, insisted that the next story was even more exciting.

And so the King kept Scheherazade alive as he eagerly anticipated each new story, until, one thousand and one adventurous nights, and three sons later, Scheherazade who became his Queen.

Scheherazade is the ultimate storyteller. Can you imagine how good a blog she would have? There would be no writer’s block for her. She would have to come up with one amazing tale after another, or DIE. Of course, the King HAD to fall in love with her because of her amazing talent. She wouldn’t have time or energy to waste her time on the 140 character Twitter, avoiding the challenge of having to come up with a beginning, middle, and end.

Sometimes people ask me why I started blogging, and I never have a clear answer. I’m not trying to make money, help anyone “learn” anything, or even hone my writing skills. I just have fun writing stories, sometimes stupid and sometimes serious. I like to be honest and I also enjoy stretching my personality so a different part of my id shows up. I love that my mother reads my blog and it makes her laugh. I love the comments of long-time readers who know when I’m lying. I once got an email from a reader who told me she played with herself after reading one of my sexually-oriented posts. I cried after saving that email. That was worth more to me than four years of BlogHer ads. Sure, I want attention, like everyone, but the fact that I am communicating to you with my direct words, saying things that I would not in polite company makes me feel like I am floating in the air while fucking the angels in heaven.

I don’t get that feeling online anywhere else than on my blog.

When I heard the barista’s name called out on that day in the coffee shop, I immediately went up to her and asked excitedly, “Your name is Scheherazade?!”

She was taken aback. She was a pretty girl, no more that twenty-three, and probably got hit on by customers all the time, and I must have seemed like some sleazy guy using some opening line.

“Yes,” she said. Or just “Sherry.”

“Sherry! Oh no, Scheherazade is an amazing name. I’ve never met anyone named it before. You HAVE to use the full name.”

At this point, she looked like she was about to call the manager to tell him to throw me out of the establishment.

“Do you know who Scheherazade was?”

She said that it meant something, like a fruit or flower, in Farsi. Who knows? Maybe it does, but clearly she was ignorant about the important meaning.

“Scheherazade was the beautiful AMAZING woman who told the 1001 Tales in the Arabian Nights!”

“Excuse me,” she said. “I have another customer.”

She dashed away to make a cappuccino, eager to leave the aging pervert with the graying hair. She had no interest at all in me or my story. Or even the story of her own name!

But luckily, YOU do. And I see this as a sign. Even Scheherazade, the ultimate storyteller, is not interesting until there is a story built around her. So I finally dragged myself off Twitter and Facebook because I had to write a story about Scherazarde, the barista in the Redondo Beach Coffee Company.

On, Saturday, July 25, at 3PM — Amy of Doobleh-vah and I will be offering a Room of Your Own at BlogHer called Blogging as Storytelling. It is for those who care about Schehrazade more than giveaways. It will be so good that you will have to return to your hotel room afterwards to play with yourself.


  1. Finn

    Thank you for reminding me why I blog. 🙂

  2. magpie

    I loved that my mother loved my blog. Thanks for that reminder.

  3. Mary Beth (Cats, Books, Life is Good)

    I would love to go to your room … Your storytelling one, that is … but I’m only registered for LobbyCon and I think the rooms are barred to us. So I will have to live it vicariously through you.

  4. jessica

    Neil, this one is to be stumbled. I love this post. It is a great great story. I never knew this one and I thank you.

  5. followthatdog

    I love it. This is a fantastic story. Sad that she doesn’t understand the amazing name she possesses.

  6. Twenty Four At Heart

    I play with myself after all of your posts Neil. Just kidding. (But who knows, maybe someday!) Thank you for distracting me from the MJ coverage today!

  7. Linda

    That is a shame that she didn’t know the story of her name. Or maybe she didn’t want to have a long discussion about it with an “aging pervert with the graying hair” =)

  8. ballerinatoes

    I like this story very much. Barisita girl doesn’t know what she is missing. 😉

  9. amy@ bitchin' wives club

    Loved this post and feel the same way. 🙂 I love telling stories and getting the satisfaction of people loving to hear them!

  10. Dana

    “I once got an email from a reader who told me she played with herself after reading one of my sexually-oriented posts. I cried after saving that email.”

    How many times have I told you that what I email you is private? 😉

  11. Lauren

    Thanks! Now doesn’t that feel more fulfilling than 30 tweets? Excellent post.

  12. Corina

    Thank you. Honestly. I was having a horrible day, not sure where to go, what to write. I guess I still don’t. But, I loved the story. And in the end, I will write, because I too have a story to tell.

  13. tiff

    It might be enough that YOU know the story behind her name for now. In time, when she’s all grown up, she will likely start using her full name because of a guy who was once thrilled it was hers.

  14. LoLa

    I miss your posts, Neil. Ya gotta write more.

  15. kenju

    Excellent post.

  16. Gina

    “Ophelia! You know that’s …”

    “Yeah, yeah, Hamlet’s girfriend, he went crazy, she killed herself. This is real life, Louie.”

  17. Beautiful Wreck

    You do need to write more.

    Great post. Too bad the girl was clueless. However she was excellent inspiration with a name like that to write a story around.

  18. p.huong

    Great post!

    That barista is lame. At the Coffee Bean that I used to work at, the baristas are used to getting nagged and harassed by the customers that we usually just play along with their game and turn it all into a joke. Not saying you’re a nagging and harassing customer, but you probably would have had a different story to share had you came to this coffee shop instead.

  19. churlita

    Wow. That is some advertisement for your Blogher thingy. If I were attending Blogher, I’d definitely go and then run to my room directly after.

  20. Postmodern Sass

    Do yourself a favour. Abandon Twitter.

  21. leah

    well… “i’ll be” said the southern lady…

  22. Elisa

    She wanted to shorten Sherazade into “Sherry”?? Now, there’s a clueless gal.

  23. RebeccaOlesen

    Don’t forget!! Scheherazade volunteered to marry the king in order to carry out the plan she had made, hoping to stop the endless executions of so many young innocent girls. She wasn’t just trying to save herself, she did the entire scheme to stop the killing. I always thought that was one of the most important parts of the story !!~:o ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)
    and why would anybody call bullshit? That is an actual Persian name and they do tend to give their children Persian names (when ahmahdemijad or some such twat is forcing them to call their kids mohammed or fatima)

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